Conservation Advisory Board Again Recommends Turkey Decoys

In a special called meeting, the Conservation Advisory Board voted 7 to 2 today to affirm its earlier recommendation to legalize the use of decoys for turkey hunting.  The original affirmative vote occurred last May.  Since the May meeting, some individuals outside the Board questioned whether Chairman Dan Moultrie should have cast the tie-breaking vote because, in 2003, his wildlife feeder business was sold to EBSCO Industries, which owns a decoy manufacturer among its subsidiaries.  Moultrie sold the company prior to chairing his first Advisory Board meeting.  The Chairman votes only in the event of a tie.

Moultrie called the special meeting to erase concerns over the tie-breaking vote.  He remarked, “As you are aware, opponents of turkey decoys have raised questions regarding my vote at our last meeting.  I voted only because it became necessary to break the existing tie.  I have since met with Jim Sumner, Director of the State Ethics Commission, and Hugh Evans, attorney for the Ethics Commission, and feel comfortable that I have taken appropriate corrective action."  He added, “Since the question has been raised, and to remove any question of impropriety by me, I called this meeting to allow the Board an opportunity to vote again on the use of turkey decoys without my vote.  There will be an opportunity for public comment during the administrative regulation process should the Commissioner choose to follow any affirmative recommendation of the Advisory Board made today.”

Conservation Commissioner, M. Barnett Lawley, commended the Board.  “As I stated before, this Advisory Board took the extra step because we will always err on the side of caution.  Board members reconsidered the recommendation to ensure the integrity of the decision making process.”  One Board member suggested publishing proposed action items prior to each Board meeting to ensure adequate public comment, to which Lawley replied, “That idea is already in motion.  You will see several improvements in the way the process works.”

The official function of the Conservation Advisory Board is to examine all rules and regulations and to make recommendations for their change or amendment.  Board members serve in an advisory capacity only and do not have authority to execute changes.  Board recommendations are submitted to the Commissioner of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, who is authorized to accept or reject the recommendations.

Recommendations made by the Conservation Advisory Board that include changes in existing regulations are subject to review by the Legislative Oversight Committee.  Some aspects of the 2004-2005 hunting season are not binding until the review is completed and the regulations are signed by Commissioner Lawley.  Visit the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources' website at www.outdooralabama.com for more information.

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